You’ve just arrived at the airport, you’re running late, and you need to know the number of your gate as soon as possible. But the departure board is incredibly slow, and it takes what feels like an eternity for the information about your particular flight to reappear on the display.
Most passengers can probably relate to the impatience of being stuck in front of a screen waiting to find out how much your flight is delayed or which gate you need to sprint to – especially during this time of travel chaos in Europe.
But now – at least in the U.S. – all it takes is a quick glance at an airport screen to get personalized flight information: with Delta Air Lines’ futuristic new “Parallel Reality” flight information board.
Developed in partnership with Misapplied Sciences, a California-based startup, it can display personalized information for 100 people at once on a single screen.
It is now available to Delta passengers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Each traveler who looks at this high-tech screen is shown completely different information tailored to their travel preferences.
The screen greets the passenger by name and shows them the departure time, gate number and even how long it will take them to get there and which direction they need to go.
How is that supposed to work, please?
After security, Delta passengers who opt for the digital experience can go to the Parallel Reality Display kiosk near the Delta Sky Club at the airport.
There, they must either scan their boarding pass or use facial recognition at the kiosk once they are enrolled in Delta’s digital ID program.
After that, each customer can see flight information tailored to their individual journey as they walk past the parallel reality display panel.
“This experience will always be voluntary, and customer information will not be stored,” Delta, the airline, explains.
What’s the technology behind it?
According to Misapplied Sciences, parallel reality displays are enabled by special pixels that allow different things to be projected onto different people at the same time.
Unlike a conventional pixel that projects only a single color, Misapplied Sciences’ Parallel Reality pixels can simultaneously project “millions of controllable beams of varying color and brightness.”
Each beam can then be directed to a specific person via software, the company adds.
Inside the airport, the personalized experience is enabled by a system of motion cameras and sensors.
“A relationship is created between your identity and your position, so the motion camera follows your shape,” Greg Forbes, Delta’s “managing director of airport experience,” told Business Insider.
“That tells the display which direction to point the information. As you move through the viewing space, your location is tracked, and your message follows you.”
The technology only works within a certain field of view in front of the screen. Once a passenger leaves the area, their data is erased, Forbes added.
The screen only works for those who actively choose to participate in the experience, said Albert Ng, CEO of Misapplied Sciences.
“We don’t automatically recognize who you are when you walk through the airport,” he said.
Euronews Next could not immediately reach Delta and Misapplied Sciences for more details about the technology and whether it might one day be rolled out in other countries.
For us here in Europe, the travel chaos will likely continue throughout the summer. But if you’re leaving the continent to vacation in Detroit, we hope it will make for a slightly more pleasant travel experience.